Ever wondered what happens behind the scenes of a political party? Ever wanted to experience a ‘real-life’ The Thick of It? Wish you could have halted the rise of Thatcherism? Then this is the show for you.
Crisis, What Crisis? could have been named “Emma, we wrote a show especially for you”. It combines two of my passions challenging immersive theatre and politics. But don’t let the latter put you off. While there is plenty of fun details scattered around for geeks like me, it is absolutely not essential to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the ins and out of politics. In fact, it may well be that the more imaginative solutions that are brought by those who don’t ‘know the rules’ are more successful!
It is 1979 and the Labour government is hanging by a thread. The Lorry driver’s union has gone on strike and the Tories have called a vote of no confidence in your government. And you don’t have a majority. What can you do to turn things around and keep Callaghan in power?
The audience divides into three teams. One deals with communications including negotiating with MPs both Labour ones who threaten not to turn up and Tories you might be able to convince not to, union leaders who threaten copycat strikes and the press – who are nosing around throughout. Another deals with civil unrest. Trying to stop the impact of the strikes becoming full-blown rioting on the streets. The last team deals with the finances – having to make tough decisions to balance the books every time someone makes yet another pay offer to a union to keep them in check. Our lot offered so much we had to sell off the Falkland Islands. Which – to be fair – might have seen Maggie off in 1983 if we had failed in 1979.
The production is every bit as slick as I have come to expect from Parabolic Who also did the excellent For King and Country. It was challenging and fast-paced – there’s simply not a moment to be bored. Every decision any audience member makes affects everything else so things are constantly changing yet the superb cast remained completely unflappable throughout. The setting is also as authentic as you can get. A dingy office with loads of superb period details you are thrown into the action from arrival.
Crisis, What Crisis? will appeal to political geeks like me, but it’s far bigger than that. It will also appeal to anyone who has ever looked at the state of our politics and just thought – I could do better than that. It might well be the case that you can. And I strongly urge you to test yourself, have a blinding night out and if you do well enough, cheer yourself with the thought that you – comrade – you have saved the country from 18 miserable years of Tory rule.